"We might keep those jerseys around a little bit," said manager Grady Little, after watching his team of No. 42s beat the San Diego Padres, 9-3. "What this did tonight was make you awfully proud to be a Dodger."
Introduced in 2004, Jackie Robinson Day was created to honor the enduring impact of Jackie Robinson and his legacy as the first African-American player to break the Major League color barrier. Robinson played his first Major League game at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947, as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. In honor of the 50th anniversary of Robinson breaking the Major League color barrier in 1997, Robinson's uniform No. 42 was retired throughout the Major Leagues.
Robinson's memory lives on today in initiatives such as the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which was founded by Rachel Robinson in 1973 to provide education and leadership development opportunities for minority students with strong capabilities but limited financial resources, as well as Breaking Barriers, which utilizes baseball-themed activities to reinforce literacy skills, mathematics, science and social history while addressing critical issues of character development such as conflict resolution and self esteem.
Dodgers team president Jamie McCourt decided the entire roster would wear Robinson's uniform number to mark the 60th anniversary.
Russell Martin, an African-Canadian who had three hits, said the sight of No. 42 all over the field drove home the impact Robinson has had on the game and society.
"There are times when we get heckled by fans and you think it's the end of the world, then you think about what he had to go through and you realize, you just better move on," said Martin. "His courage was unprecedented. I'm proud to wear his number. To see all those 42s out there, we were playing our hearts out. The fans were really excited and we were really excited. This was just a fun day and a day I'll never forget."
Outfielder Juan Pierre was one of the first Dodgers to inquire about wearing Robinson's number as a tribute during Spring Training, and the suggestion turned into an industry-wide movement.
"This is a very special day," said Pierre. "I'm glad I was here to see this. It might not happen again in my lifetime."
Fellow outfielder Andre Ethier said when he put on the No. 42 jersey, "It got me pumped up and got the team pumped up. If we lost this one, Jackie would be rolling over in his grave."
Randy Wolf, the winning pitcher for the Dodgers, said: "This was a great way to celebrate a great man."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less